FIRST THINGS FIRST: Take a moment to read this calming piece from NYT’s Katie Rogers on the return of a bit of schedule normalcy under President JOE BIDEN: “Did Washington Just Have an Actual Weekend?”

And then strap in, because Washington just had an actual Monday morning, too: a suite of decisions on DONALD TRUMP-related matters from the Supreme Court, Biden administration moves on small businesses, another nail in the NEERA TANDEN nomination coffin, a MERRICK GARLAND hearing, a Google policy change, the new NYT White House team announcement and, of course, some MIKE LINDELL news.

BUT FIRST … GOP MODERATES FEEL STUNG BY BIDEN ON PANDEMIC RELIEF. With Democrats full steam ahead on their plan to pass pandemic relief on their own in the coming days, some centrist Republicans who wanted a deal are stewing. Case in point: CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett have a story up this morning detailing an unreported last-ditch effort by Sen. SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine) to get Biden to take bipartisan talk seriously — a Super Bowl Sunday call promptly derailed by White House staff, according to the report.

The story — entitled “GOP irked after last-ditch attempt fails to deter Biden push for quick passage of Covid relief plan” — says there is now agreement among Senate Republicans Biden originally wanted to work with: that “Biden seems willing to cut a deal but won’t do so because of pressure from the people around him.”

You might ask: So what? Biden’s bill has overwhelming public approval. He won’t face a backlash for snubbing the GOP. What’s more, Democrats note that the GOP did the same to them when they took charge of Washington four years ago, using reconciliation to try to repeal Obamacare and enact tax cuts sans any Democratic buy-in.

But here’s the difference: Trump and the GOP never suggested they wanted to work Democrats on those matters. Thus, no expectations were raised and then shattered on the rocks. Now, Biden wants to work with Republicans on future policies such as infrastructure, but some moderate Republicans feel he may have poisoned the well.

— Biden in a news conference today: “Critics say the plan is too big. Let me ask the rhetorical question: What would you have me cut? What would you have me leave out? … I want to be clear, I am prepared to hear ideas about how to make the American rescue plan better and cheaper. But we have to make clear who we are helping and who it would hurt.”

TODAY’S POTUS ANNOUNCEMENT — “Biden targets smallest businesses with exclusive aid window,” by Zachary Warmbrodt: “From Wednesday morning to the evening of March 9, only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be able to apply for aid through the massive Paycheck Protection Program …

“Monday’s announcement will mark President Joe Biden’s first major move to put his stamp on the program. It reflects his pledge to make economic equity a top priority. … In addition to the window for small businesses to apply, the administration will take other steps to expand PPP access to underserved businesses.” More details here

SCOTUS ROUNDUP …

“Supreme Court refuses Trump effort to block tax return subpoena,” by Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney: “The high court’s decision to turn down Trump’s request for a stay of a grand jury subpoena advances a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. that appears to be one of the most serious of an array of legal threats Trump faces in his post-presidency. The justices issued no explanation for the denial and no member of the court publicly noted any dissent.”

“Supreme Court turns away Pennsylvania election-related disputes,” CBS: “The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a pair of legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s election rules mounted by former President Donald Trump’s GOP allies, closing the book on Mr. Trump’s efforts to contest the outcome of the presidential election. … [T]he Supreme Court also rejected election-related disputes from Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin with no noted dissents.”

“Supreme Court to review Trump curbs on abortion clinics, immigrant benefits,” by Susannah Luthi: “The justices’ decision to hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s restrictions on the Title X family planning program, which critics deride as a ‘gag rule,’ could serve as a key test of how the Supreme Court’s newly fortified 6-3 conservative majority will approach abortion. The justices will also weigh the constitutionality of Trump’s so-called ‘public charge’ rule, which expanded the government’s ability to deny green cards or visas for legal immigrants determined to be dependent on public assistance.

“President Joe Biden has already ordered the federal government to begin reviewing both policies, likely leading to their reversals — and potentially mooting either case before the justices could review them.”

“Supreme Court refuses to take up Stormy Daniels appeal in defamation case against Trump,” CNN

ALL EYES ON MURKOWSKI — Sen. MITT ROMNEY (R-Utah) joined Collins this morning in declaring his opposition to Tanden as OMB director. Marianne LeVine and Burgess Everett report: “A source close to Romney said the Utah Republican ‘has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees’ and ‘believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.’”

THE BIDEN CABINET — LATEST FROM THE GARLAND HEARING: “Merrick Garland tells senators Capitol riot investigation will be his first priority as attorney general,” WaPo: “Garland said he saw ‘no reason’ to end special counsel John Durham’s review of the FBI’s 2016 investigation of former president Donald Trump’s campaign — though he also declined to provide a firm commitment to giving Durham the time and resources to finish his work.” More from Marianne LeVine and Josh Gerstein

“Republicans pressure 2022 Democrats over Becerra nomination,” by Alice Miranda Ollstein: “Conservatives know they likely don’t have the votes to block President Joe Biden’s pick to run HHS, Xavier Becerra. But they’re launching new ad blitzes and pressure campaigns targeting Senate Democrats up for reelection and others they believe can be swayed, aiming to make a vote to confirm him a political liability.

“Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has led Republican opposition to Becerra in the chamber, is spending tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds on digital ads starting this week … [urging] voters to pressure Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) to vote against Becerra.”

VALLEY TALK — “Google to lift political ad ban this week,” by Elena Schneider

(MY)PILLOW TALK — “Dominion Sues MyPillow, CEO Mike Lindell Over Election Claims,” WSJ: “Dominion Voting Systems sued Mike Lindell, chief executive of Minnesota-based MyPillow Inc., and his company in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages.

“In its complaint, the company cites a number of statements made by Mr. Lindell, including in media appearances, social-media posts, and a two-hour film claiming to prove widespread election fraud. Mr. Lindell said he helped produce the film, which he released online in early February.”

A NEW ERA — “Biden deprioritizes the Middle East,” by Natasha Bertrand and Lara Seligman: “President Joe Biden is tired of dealing with the Middle East — and, barely a month into his tenure, the region has noticed. The signals are not meant to be subtle, his advisers say. … ‘If you are going to list the regions Biden sees as a priority, the Middle East is not in the top three,’ said a former senior national security official and close Biden adviser. ‘It’s Asia-Pacific, then Europe, and then the Western Hemisphere.’ …

“The shift in energy and resources away from the region reflects what advisers have described as a deliberate effort to prioritize what they view as more pressing global matters. It’s an approach Biden’s immediate predecessors tried themselves, often unsuccessfully. And at its heart is a sense of exasperation that U.S. foreign policy frequently becomes overwhelmed by quagmires in the Gulf.”

— JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT … “Iran deal with U.N. nuclear inspectors buys time for diplomacy as Biden pursues negotiations,” WaPo: “An agreement announced late Sunday that would allow the United Nations nuclear watchdog to continue some monitoring of Iran’s atomic program momentarily eased a standoff between Tehran and Western nations …

“But a vote by Iran’s parliament Monday condemning the agreement served as a reminder of domestic head winds, in both Tehran and Washington, that could hinder a speedy return to the nuclear deal between Iran and global powers.”

RARE TRUMP-BIDEN CONTINUITY — “Biden Picks Up Where Trump Left Off in Hard-Line Stances at WTO,” Bloomberg: “President Joe Biden’s administration dashed hopes for a softer approach to the World Trade Organization by pursuing a pair of his predecessor’s strategies that critics say risk undermining the international trading system.

“The U.S. delegation to the WTO, in a statement Monday obtained by Bloomberg, backed the Trump administration’s decision to label Hong Kong exports as ‘Made in China’ and said the WTO had no right to mediate the matter.”

THE VACCINE CHALLENGE — “Biden upends Trump’s calculation of who gets federal vaccination help,” NBC: “When the Biden White House started looking for sites for four small vaccination centers across New York state, federal agency officials ranked the best spots based on a county-by-county ‘social vulnerability index’ … The data said Chautauqua County, a sparsely populated expanse known primarily for its wine-industry vineyards, was a leading candidate to get vaccine shots to the underserved.

“But state officials said no. There were better places than Chautauqua to achieve the White House goal of vaccinating more Black and brown people, they said. … Because New York’s logic fit President Joe Biden’s mandate better than the CDC’s data did, the White House backed off. … As Biden has acted to strengthen the federal government’s hand in coordinating vaccination efforts across the country — particularly in empowering FEMA as the lead response agency — he has also reversed the politics of combating the crisis.”

— BUT, BUT, BUT: “Urgency to ramp up vaccination clashes with Biden’s equity focus,” by Joanne Kenen and Brianna Ehley: “Disparities in the vaccine rollout remain stark. The share of first doses going to white Americans has increased slightly since the first month of inoculations, from 60.4 percent to 63.7 percent … In one hopeful sign, 34 states are now reporting race and ethnicity data, double the 17 from a month ago.”

2020 POST-MORTEM — “Why Texas Democrats lost the 2020 voter turnout battle, even among Latinos,” NBC: “According to a post-election report provided in advance to NBC News, the party lost its ‘most powerful and competitive advantage’ when it didn’t dispatch volunteers to canvass in person …

“The report did not find a Latino shift to Republicans and Trump; about two-thirds of the state’s Hispanics continue to support Democrats. ‘Many have interpreted this as “Latinos voted for Trump,” but it’s more accurate to say, “Latinos who were already Republicans turned out more than Latino Democrats,”’ said the report … Democrats said they have a clear idea what they need to do in the future: massively expand voter registration, meet voters where they are and improve how the party connects with Latino Texans.”

POLITICALLY ADRIFT — “Anti-Trumpers are done with the GOP. Where do they go now?” by David Siders: “The Democratic Party, which continues to move leftward, isn’t a good ideological fit. Those who want to fight to recapture the GOP from within are vastly outnumbered. Building a third party from scratch requires gigantic sums of money and overcoming a thicket of daunting state laws designed in large part by the two major parties. …

“Even in their diminished state, the Democratic and Republican parties remain the dominant force in politics, with party affiliation tightly tied to voter preferences and legislative voting behavior. And more than 150 years of two-party rule in Washington and the nation’s statehouses have created conditions designed to keep it that way.”

NEW: Former Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO is joining the American Center for Law and Justice as senior counsel for global affairs. Announcement

WHAT KELLY LOEFFLER IS UP TO — “Loeffler launches group to boost GOP turnout, promote ‘big tent’ policies,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Kelly Loeffler is wading back into Georgia politics weeks after her runoff defeat with the start of a new voter registration group … The former financial executive framed the launch Monday of the Greater Georgia organization as a Republican answer to the powerful Fair Fight voting rights group that Stacey Abrams started … She also confirmed she was weighing a 2022 rematch against Warnock.”

PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION — “Inside DC’s Secret Covid Morgue,” Washingtonian: “Last April, the District built a secret disaster morgue, assembled an army of volunteers to staff it, and trained people who had never previously seen a cadaver to care for the dead. This is the story of the morgue—and the quiet force of civil servants tending to everyone we’ve lost to Covid.”

TOP-ED — “Nord Stream 2 has damaged the West enough. Time to put an end to it,” by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in POLITICO Europe: “US can play important role in preventing the project’s completion.”

IN MEMORIAM — “Michael Elleman, a ‘top expert’ on North Korean weapons, dies at 62,” NK News: “Michael S. Elleman, a world-renowned missile expert who spent much of his life trying to stop advances to North Korea’s nuclear program, died of cancer at George Washington University Hospital on Saturday … A former scientist-turned-U.N.-missile-inspector and analyst, Elleman was known for his gift of explaining North Korea’s complex missile systems to politicians, journalists and countless students and mentees in an approachable way. …

“Elleman joined the International Institute for Strategic Studies in 2009 … He returned to Washington, D.C. and later became the IISS’ head of non-proliferation and nuclear policy in 2019.”

MEDIAWATCH — The NYT announced its new White House team: Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Annie Karni, Katie Rogers, David Sanger, Michael Shear and Jim Tankersley. Announcement … And Maggie Haberman is taking on a new role that will bridge the D.C. bureau’s investigative/enterprise team and political coverage of post-Trump, 2022 and 2024. Announcement

— Philip Klein is joining National Review as editor of NationalReview.com, as current editor Charles Cooke will return to writing full time. Klein most recently was executive editor of the Washington Examiner.

— Steve Beynon is now covering Congress and veterans service organizations for Military.com. He previously covered veterans issues for Stars and Stripes, and is a POLITICO alum.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Matthew Shapanka is now chief counsel for the Senate Rules Committee. He most recently was senior associate attorney at Covington and Burling.

TRUMP ALUMNI — Lisa Curtis has been named director of the Center for a New American Security’s new Indo-Pacific Security Program. She previously was deputy assistant to the president and senior director for south and central Asia for the NSC. … Livy Polen has joined the North Carolina Republican Party as press secretary. She previously was an associate director in the White House Office of Political Affairs.

STAFFING UP — The DCCC announced a slate of new hires today: Alex Ball will be political director for Frontline, Charles Benton will be director of member services, Dan Boysen will be finance director, Jillian Edelman will be chief administrative officer, Vriti Jain will be deputy executive director for strategic messaging, Whitney Larsen will be political director for recruitment, Dennis Raj will be deputy executive director for data, targeting and analytics and Alex Smith will be deputy executive director and COS.

TRANSITIONS — Former Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and the Alpine Group have launched Alpine Advisors, where Walden will serve as chair. … Liam McKenna is now chief investigator for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He most recently was associate general counsel for the Department of Transportation.